Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Politics – June 2012

Support is sought to facilitate the work of the Middle East Study Group. Information at http://www2.hull.ac.uk/fass/mestudygroup/informationfordonors.aspx

I also welcome promoting the two-state solution. See http://www.hull.ac.uk/rca/campaigns.html

Politicians and philosophers share a tendency to portray reality and societal aspirations in abstract terms. Political scientists attempt to concretize their concerns and principles.

In a few generations, people will be born with wider palms and thinner fingers, better equipped for the cell phones which may become natural extensions of human hands.

~Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Reflections on May Newsletter
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad on Israel’s Security
Avigdor Lieberman
RESPECT Diversity - Football Unites at Euro 2012
Visitors to the University of Hull - Professor Colin Shindler
New Books
English Football
Monthly Poem
Musical Moment
Gem of the Month - Elton John
Light Side
Reflections on May Newsletter
From Professor Sam Lehman-Wilzig, Bar Ilan University:

Rafi: the problem with your analysis -- most of which I agree with -- is that you do not mention at all the REAL reason for the new political "union": the need to pass a successor to the Tal Law (Haredi draft etc), demanded by the Supreme Court, by mid-summer. In addition, the agreement signed between Mofaz and Bibi EXPLICITLY states that the government will pass an electoral reform law -- something too that the Haredim are against. If both these things are carried out (a big "if"), the picture will look a LOT different!).] 

As for your statement that: "It is a time to convene another small committee that will enquire what the Israeli population wants: To leave things as they are, or to change. I think a gap of at least one week should separate between these two most significant days. There should be time to mourn, and time to rejoice. And there should be ample time to allow the transition between the two."

I think that you miss the significance of this from a JEWISH perspective that demands all "joy" be balanced by "memory". That's why we break the glass under the khupah [bridal canopy] -- even at the most joyous occasion in one's life we are required to remember the Jewish people's sorrow. Your approach here is very "Hellenistic" (pure enjoyment...); the double day is very JEWISH.

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad on Israel’s Security

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad has been for a few decades now a well-respected security personality in Israel. He serves as Director of the Military/Political and Policy Bureau in Israel’s Ministry of Defense. He has also served as the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator for the Administered Territories, Director of the Research Division for the IDF’s Intelligence Branch, and as the IDF Spokesman. In a recent article, Gilad analyzes Israel’s security circumstances and the challenges Israel is facing. When Gilad speaks, I listen.


Gilad argues that Israel is living in a most convenient period of time from a security standpoint. Suicide attacks are behind us and there is deterrence against rocket attacks. At the same time there are unprecedented challenges to Israel’s national security including the possibility of a nuclear Iran or even a nuclear Middle East.

Gilad expresses gratitude to Jordan for protecting a very complicated border. Gilad describes Jordanian security as “state-of-the-art”. The outcome, from the Israeli point of view, is a dramatic contribution to our security. It is very difficult for terrorists to cross the Jordanian border, and we enjoy the benefits. Gilad did not say that Israel is considering building a fence along the Jordanian border to stop migrants. If the Jordanian security is so good, why does Israel contemplate building such a fence?  Maybe the Jordanians are not troubled by such migration to Israel. Maybe the extent of cooperation between the two countries has to improve, and maybe the Jordanian security is not “state-of-the-art”, yet.

Gilad thinks that a two-state solution is not viable nowadays because any agreement with the PA won’t be binding on Hamas.  Hamas wishes to take over the PA and also the PLO. No Palestinian would be willing to agree to a peace treaty between Israel and the PA which would exclude Hamas. Thus, the picture that Gilad paints is bleak. Accordingly, it is in Israel’s interest, if its leaders sincerely wish to implement a two-state solution, to see integration between the PLO and Hamas. In practice, however, Prime Minister Netanyahu criticises the PLO and the PA for any positive move towards Hamas.

The Israeli north is flourishing as Syria is preoccupied with internal rivalries. In the south, Egypt has been successful in convincing Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist organizations to maintain the quiet because it is clear that if these groups continue to attack us, Egypt could suffer from Israel's operations. Gilad describes the Egyptian security as “efficient” and “professional”. They are the only ones who can convince the extremists to remain quiet. Again, some people may contest Gilad’s assessment of the Egyptian security establishment, especially its control of Sinai which sometimes seems to be a no-man-land, a fertile ground for terrorists, drug smugglers, pimps and thieves.

Israel relies on Egypt to stop the terrorists in Sinai, who are sponsored by Iran. Both Israel and Egypt have a mutual interest to keep stability and quiet. Gilad says there is no coordination between the two countries. The cold peace is becoming colder by the day. We may expect close to freezing temperatures after the presidential elections.

According to Gilad, the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War has worsened Israel’s geo-strategic position. Hezbollah has taken half of Lebanon, and is much more powerful militarily and politically than the Lebanese government. Hezbollah is heavily financed by Iran and Syria, and it has significantly increased its offensive capabilities from 14,000 rockets in 2006 to at least 45,000 rockets. Although Gilad does not say this, many of these rockets are superior in range and quality compared to the rockets Hezbollah had in 2006. Gilad says categorically that Hezbollah is responsible for the murder of President Hariri. He says that the Lebanese authorities know that the number two official in Hezbollah is responsible for the murder but the Lebanese are afraid to press charges against him.

As for Iran, it has 5.5 tons of low-grade enriched uranium. They have hundreds of Shahab-3 missiles which can travel 1,500 km., and it has missiles with a range of 2,200 km. Its ambition is to become the regional superpower. It has the know-how to assemble nuclear warheads on missiles if it wants to.

Despite differences of opinion regarding Iran, Gilad describes Israel’s relations with China as “excellent” and speaks of Putin’s commitment to Israel’s national security. As for China, the Chinese chief-of-staff, along with almost 20 generals, has visited Israel, and Prime Minister Netanyahu may visit China soon. Note that Gilad does not speak of China’s commitment to Israel’s national security as no such commitment exists. China is very instrumental in its strategy, designed to enhance only Chinese interests, with no sentiments or affinity to any side. The Chinese appreciate Israel’s achievements and would like to learn from us whenever possible, but they won’t go out of their way to enhance Israel’s security if that might entail harming their own partisan interests.

As for Russia, clearly one million Russian Jews in Israel are very important to Russia. However, the Russians are supplying weapons to Syria, including a supersonic missile against ships and other strategic targets. Israel has requested that they not supply such weapons because they will fall into the hands of Hezbollah. On this issue, as on the Iranian issue and despite what Gilad says, Russia’s commitment to Israel’s national security does not exist.

Gilad cannot imagine Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or any of the other Arab countries tolerating a nuclear Iran. There is an Arabic word, “ajami,” which expresses disgust of the Persians. A nuclear Iran will destroy the stability of the Middle East and threaten the best interests of the world. If you ask any Arab leader about the greatest threat, he will say Iran – not Israel – but not publicly.

Between the lines, we can read that Israel’s relations with Turkey are doomed, beyond repair. Gilad says that “Both Turkey and Iran used to be our best friends”. Gilad says it is quite a challenge to digest and understand the changes that have occurred in Turkey. I presume the Turks find it quite a challenge to digest and understand the changes that have occurred in Israel after Netanyahu’s return to power. Gilad maintains that the Iranians and the Turks have a 1,000-year-old tradition of rivalry. He cannot believe that the Turks believe there is room for friendship with Iran. If Iran goes nuclear, the Turks will be very upset. I think that Turkey may strive to develop its own nuclear capacity.

The bottom line from Gilad’s article is that the status quo serves Israel’s best interests. Of course, Israel needs to keep its eyes open, be very cautious and vigilant in observing the changing circumstances in the region, but he paints quite an optimistic view of the present situation. Contra to Diskin, Dagan and others who have warned about the low capabilities of the present Israeli leadership, Gilad seems to trust them and thinks that they are doing quite a good job. I sincerely hope Gilad is right on this one.


Source: Gilad, Amos, Updating Israel’s Security Policy”, Jerusalem Issue Brief, Vol. 12, No. 11 (21 May 2012): 1-6.

Avigdor Lieberman

When Yehuda Weinstein was selected to be the Legal Advisor to the Government position, I explained that the experienced lawyer, who has made much of his fortune by defending senior politicians and business people, was selected because the Israeli elite trusts him: he knows how they behave and benefit from them. Weinstein won’t rush to prosecute them; he will do his best to protect them. Only if the corruption is staggering and the case is absolutely sealed on all possible angles, only then Weinstein would remove his protective shield.

Now Weinstein is pushed to prosecute. For two and a half years, Weinstein delayed making a decision on Avigdor Lieberman’s corruption charges. Weinstein examined all possible angles, collected thousands of papers, looked for potential witnesses (none were found until now), and let Lieberman resort to all tricks that are written in the books of law. In the weeks ahead, barring unforeseen developments, Weinstein will file an indictment against Foreign Minister Lieberman. This will launch a new chapter in one of the most talked-about white-collar-crime investigations in recent years, and no doubt reveal the intricate connections between the Russian oligarchs in Israel and in Russia, their cooperation and mutual benefits. Complicated financial transactions that stretch across the globe will come to light. Its foci are companies and people in Israel, Cyprus, Virgin Islands, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belorussia, Austria, and Latvia, all connected in one way or another to Lieberman and his loving family, drivers, consultants and friends. Insidious money-laundering techniques which evaded the authorities in Israel and abroad begin to emerge as more evidence is collected.

Lieberman’s thirst for power is notorious. Excelling in politics and at the same time also in business is always suspect. The courts of law will do their best, I am certain, to mete out justice.


Dr. Ruby Gropas wrote from Athens:

Rafi hi

amidst all the political turmoil and mess in Greece there have been
LOTS of efforts to try to regain the discourse back from the extremes,
from an aggressive anti-immigrant xenophobia that has sky-rocketed..
anyway, in all this, there was also this publication and petition
I wanted to share it with you for your interest and also if you think
relevant perhaps you could include it in your Politics blog monthly

I just feel its important to spread it as much as possible and to
raise awareness again, again, again (!!!) of the monstrosities of
extremism and racism and here is all the sensitivization effort that the Athens Jewish
Community has been doing

perhaps you know of all this already,
anyway, hoping for the best

RESPECT Diversity - Football Unites at Euro 2012

From The FARE network programme for Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine

With concerns over potential racism and far-right activity high on the public agenda, the FARE programme includes an unprecedented level of monitoring at matches and a high profile campaign that comes to a focus at the semi- finals of the tournament.

FARE has been working with UEFA on a ‘Respect Diversity- Football Unites’ programme that will include anti- discrimination messages at every game, a joint protocol on the reporting of incidents, a commitment to take disciplinary sanctions, and a campaign focus at the semi- finals that will see diversity messages from team captains and a giant Tifo display.

The activities in Poland and Ukraine are the culmination of a three-year programme to develop a hub in the region with a focus on education and engagement. The key elements of the FARE activities at Euro 2012 include:

- A total of 30 international monitors - at least two at each of the 31 games
- A reporting hotline for fans to report racist and discriminatory incidents
- Up to 300 public areas self- declared as Inclusivity Zones to provide welcoming spaces across Poland and Ukraine
- A fanzine in four languages
- Tour of Streetkick, the mobile football game to engage fans and locals with an anti- discrimination message
- Respect Diversity theme at the semi-finals featuring a strong message to celebrate diversity
- A roster of ambassadors for the Respect Diversity - Football Unites campaign including international footballer Clarence Seedorf and Italian referee Pierluigi Collina.
Rafal Pankowski, of the Warsaw-based 'Never Again' Association and co-ordinator of the FARE programme for Euro 2012, said: 'This is the first major football event to be held in Eastern Europe in the modern era and it is one that we have been anticipating for a long time.

'We have well documented issues with discrimination in football but I am also confident of the strong messages that will be sent out, and the contingencies we have to deal with problems. There is also no doubt that the majority of the people of our countries will do their best to welcome visitors regardless of their background or nationality.

'Our biggest achievement has been to start a dialogue and to raise difficult issues, a process that will contribute to the social development of both our countries. We have a close working relationship with UEFA and are proud to be implementing partners of the Respect Diversity - Football Unites campaign.'

Full details of the FARE programme is available on the newly launched www.FootballUnites.net website. Daily information on developments will be available through the FARE Twitter and Facebook accounts.

For full details of the launch event in Warsaw on the 8th June please contact info@farenet.org

Visitors to the University of Hull - Professor Colin Shindler

On May 23, 2012 I hosted Professor Colin Shindler in the Middle East Study Group. Colin presented two chapters of his most interesting book “Israel and the European Left: Between Solidarity and Delegitimisation (New York: Continuum, 2012).

Shindler asks: Why has the European Left become so antagonistic towards Israel? To answer this question, he looks at the struggle between Communism and Zionism from the October Revolution to today.

Shindler argues that the new generation of the European Left was more influenced by the decolonization movement than by wartime experiences, which led it to favor the Palestinian cause in the post 1967 period. Thus the Israeli drive to settle the West Bank after the Six Day war enhanced an already existing attitude, but did not cause it.

Colin provided a balanced view which provoked extensive discussion and stimulated much interest. Yet again, we were late for dinner. It was a good fun!

Colin Shindler is Emeritus Professor and Pears Senior Research Fellow at SOAS, University of London, UK. He is also the founding chairman of the European Association of Israel Studies. The first professor of Israeli Studies in the UK, he has written 7 books on Israeli history and Jewish affairs. His History of Modern Israel was published in 2008 to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel.

New Books

Nick Couldry, Media, Society, World (Cambridge: Polity, 2012)

Media are fundamental to our sense of living in a social world. Since the beginning of modernity, media have transformed the scale on which we act as social beings. And now in the era of digital media, media themselves are being transformed as platforms, content, and producers multiply.

Yet the implications of social theory for understanding media and of media for rethinking social theory have been neglected; never before has it been more important to understand those implications. This book takes on this challenge.

Drawing on Couldry's fifteen years of work on media and social theory, this book explores how questions of power and ritual, capital and social order, and the conduct of political struggle, professional competition, and everyday life, are all transformed by today's complex combinations of traditional and 'new' media. In the concluding chapters Couldry develops a framework for global comparative research into media and for thinking collectively about the ethics and justice of our lives with media. The result is a book that is both a major intervention in the field and required reading for all students of media and sociology.

I thank Polity Press for a copy of this book.

James Curran, Natalie Fenton and Des Freedman, Misunderstanding the Internet (Abingdon: Routledge, 2012).

Misunderstanding the Internet is a short introduction, encompassing the history, sociology, politics and economics of the internet and its impact on society. The book has a simple three part structure:
·                     Part 1 looks at the history of the internet, and offers an overview of the internet’s place in society
·                     Part 2 focuses on the control and economics of the internet
·                     Part 3 examines the internet’s political and cultural influence

I thank Routledge for a copy of this book.

English Football

Another fascinating season of exciting football has passed in England, the best and most exciting league in the world. Here are the players that impressed me the most in a 1-4-3-3 formation.

Goal Keeper:

Petr Cech (Chelsea, Czech Republic)

Cech has been among the best keepers in the world. He is wonderful goalie, true inspiration: professional, reliable, consistent, alert and agile. Goalkeeper is the last bastion. Every little mistake can be translated into a goal. He cannot make any mistakes, and Cech has saved Chelsea so many times this year, bringing them to winning trophies. A wonderful goalkeeper.


Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur and England)

Walker reminds me of Barca’s Dani Alves. He is very quick, agile, athletic, and difficult to pass. He likes to attack and capable of scoring important goals. The problem is that his attacking character requires able central defenders to cover for him when he is in the opponent’s territory. Spurs does not have good central defenders. The result is many unnecessary goals. Walker, I hope, will remain with Spurs for many years to come. He is very young, and will no doubt serve the English national team for the foreseeable future.

Rio Ferdinand (Man. Utd and England)

Ferdinand was the most expensive defender in the history of the British league when in 2002 Ferguson insisted on having him in Manchester United. The £30,000,000 transfer fee was a very good investment as Ferdinand has been one of the very best central defenders for more than ten years. The photo shows his character: Strong, reliable, a true winner, quick with his legs, lots of experience, a leader. Ferdinand has been struggling with many injuries and will find it more and more difficult to keep up with the famous English pace. This year he has done a magnificent job for Man. Utd., and he is still irreplaceable in the English national team.

Vincent Kompany (Man. City and Belgium)

Kompany is the inspiring leader of the opposite Manchester team. He is the younger version of Ferdinand, an asset for both Man. City and Belgium. He is tall, strong, determined, quick and experienced. He is good on the floor, and superb in the air. The bastion of the City defence, and the heart of the team.

Patrice Evra (Manchester United, France)

Evra continues to be the best in his role in England. Evra was on my team also last year. Consistently very good.


Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur and Wales)

Presently Bale is the best left winger in England. His energy is relentless, his ability to master the ball superb, and he knows how to score. Bale is quick, and has the ability to pass the movement in motion. Bale is one of the best players in Europe, an asset for Spurs. Superb. Simply superb.

Antonio Valencia (Man. Utd., Ecuador)


Valencia is a great asset to every team. He always gives 101 percent, very industrious, very quick. His ability to master the ball is impeccable. He is a wonderful dribbler, and a wonderful passer of the ball. He runs constantly, doing defensive work as well. A true gem of a player.

David Silva (Man. City and Spain)

Until February 2012, Silva was the best player in the Premier League. He began to struggle when Yaya Touré was not around as he clearly enjoys attacking than doing defence. He is quick, with a wonderful vision and great ability to pass and to score. It is not easy to be the shining gem in the City squad which is full of talents. Silva stood out as the very best.


Wayne Rooney (Manchester United, England)


For the first time I can remember, Rooney had a professional year. His name appeared only in the right connections, on the pitch. He learned to restrain himself, not allowing the red-head in him to take over. And he produces – goals and passes for goals. He was the best Man. Utd player this year, very consistent and reliable.

Robin van Persey (Arsenal and France)

How many times we saw van Persey celebrating like this after scoring. The best striker in the league. He can score out of nothing. So dangerous, so quick, so strong with both legs and in the air. A classic striker.

Sergio Leonel "Kun" Agüero del Castillo (Man City and Argentina)

This has been Agüero’s first year in the Premier League and he has already made an impression. The Man. City fans simply love him. He is a natural scorer who enjoys terrorising defences with his quick feet and immense pace.

My team includes four players from Manchester United, three from Manchester City, two from Tottenham, one from Chelsea, and one from Arsenal.

England has three representatives in my team. The Czech Republic, Wales, the Netherlands, Ecuador, France, Spain, Belgium and Argentina have one representative each.

Only two players, Evra and Bale, retained their places from last year’s team. Five players – van Der Sar, Vidic, Tevez, Berbatov and Wilshire lost their place either because of retirement (van Der Sar), injury (Vidic,  Wilshire) or lack of confidence in them by their respective managers (Tevez, Berbatov). Ivanovic is in my reserve team.

My reserves this year:

Goal Keeper:

Joe Hart (Man. City, England)


Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea, Serbia)

Photo: Chelsea

Strong, reliable, confident, good in defence and in attack.

Joleon Lescott  (Man. City and England)
Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City and England)

Leighton Baines (Everton and England)

Michael Carrick (Man. Utd. and England)
Yaya Touré
(Manchester City, Ivory Coast)

Clint Dempsey (Fulham and the USA)

Stephan Sessègnon (Sunderland and Benin)


Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham Hotspur and Togo)

Adebayor is a fun to watch. There is a constant smile on his face, a positive man who shines on and off the pitch. He is a towering figure who intimidates the defence by his very existence. At least two defenders are required to watch him, while he constantly moves around. A true asset for Spurs.

Didier Drogba (Chelsea and Ivory Coast)

Strong, powerful, athletic, experienced and a wonderful scorer. It takes very strong defenders to contain him as his physical strength alone is enough to overcome defence. Possibly his last year at Chelsea.


  My team, Tottenham Hotspur, had another mediocre year. Mediocrity is my nightmare. Spurs finished yet another season without trophies. To compete against the very best on equal footing, Spurs needs two towering figures at the heart of defence (solid Italian defenders from Seria A like Giorgio Chiellini and Ignazio Abate), a world-quality striker, and a new manager with a “killer instinct”, one who believes that the only good result is winning, that a draw is unacceptable average, and the word “lose” is simply not in his vocabulary. Someone with the Shimon Mizrachi mentality like Fabio Capello. I was hoping that Mr Redknapp will get the England job and then Capello will arrive at White Hart Lane, but it did not work out for him, and for Spurs, unfortunately.

Mr Redknapp is known for his solid decision-making capabilities. To be clear, this is a mild compliment, as the result is a solid team, solid performances and zero trophies. To take only one example among many: Last January, Mr Redknapp could have brought one of the best defenders in the league, Chris Samba, from Blackburn to Spurs. The tag price was £12 million, but Mr Redknapp thought this was “excessive”. Samba is now playing in Russia for a team whose owner did not deem the requested transfer fee “excessive”. Instead, Mr Redknapp brought also from Blackburn for a relative pocket money Ryan Nelson. Nelson saw most of the games from the bench.

I’d like to argue that Samba could have stabilized the shaky Spurs defence. With him at the heart of the defence, Spurs could have finished before Arsenal in third place in the league; consequently it would have played next year in the European Championships, earn far more than £12 million, retain all its talented players who are contemplating leaving the club, and lure some other talented players whose dream is to play European Championship football.

And Blackburn, surprise surprise, had relegated.

I would love to see Fernando Llorente Torres (Athletic Bilbao, Spain) in the attack and Ryan Shawcross in the heart of the Spurs defence.

Spurs have plenty of players who either do not play because they are constantly injured or not good enough, or should not play. Bid them farewell, let them go, and save a lot of money to get the truly gifted, world-class players, who can push Spurs forward to compete for each and every title until the very last moment.

With the money for Gomes, Dawson, King, Lennon, and Kranjcar, who are simply not good enough to play at the highest possible level, Spurs could buy three quality players who would make the world of difference.

In the team, but not playing for reasons that only Mr Redknapp knows, is Giovani Dos Santos. I have no idea why Redknapp thinks that Lennon is better than him. Lennon knows how to run with the ball but he is incapable of providing consistent quality crosses or to score.

I would also wish to see Andros Townsend returning, now on loan with Leeds United.

Monthly Poem

When Would You Know He Is The One?

When hearing his name makes your heart jump
You’ll know he is the one.

When you would wish to spend the defining moments of your life with him
You’ll know he is the one.

When you long to share your intimate hours with him
You’ll know he is the one.

When you feel your life is incomplete without him
You’ll know he is the one.

When his happiness becomes a constitutive element of your happiness
You’ll know he is the one.

When causing him pain causes you pain
You’ll know he is the one.

When you miss him like crazy when he’s not around
And you feel irreplaceable void in your heart
You’ll know he is the one.

When he comes under your skin
You’ll know he is the one.

When you grow to believe that there is no justice in Love
You’ll know he is the one.

When you feel your life would become meaningless without him
You’ll know he is the one.

When you feel unity with him
You feel you would do your utmost to keep it
You’ll know he is the one.

When you would be willing to fight for your love as you fight for your life
You’ll know he is the one.

When you could not see yourself with anyone else
You’ll know he is the one.

When you feel he is exceptional and could not be substituted
You’ll know he is the one.

When your being is no longer defined as an independent human being
You’ll know he is the one.

When you picture your ideal home and you see him inside
You’ll know he is the one.

When you would like to grow old with him
You’ll know he is the one.

Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Musical Moment

Martin Fröst and VFCO play Giora Feidman "Let's be happy" (Klezmer tune) - Verbier Festival 2010

Gem of the Month – Elton John

Elton John has been active in the popular music industry since the 1960s. For half a century, he and his songwriting partner Bernard John "Bernie" Taupin have enriched world music by beautiful songs that have touched many millions of people and certainly have enriched my life. His new concert production, Rocket Man, includes many of his hits: Bennie and the Jets, Your Song, Philadelphia Freedom, Nikita, Rocket Man, Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word, Sacrifice, I Guess that’s Why they Call It the Blues, I’m Still Standing, Honky Cat, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Daniel, Crocodile Rock, Candle in the Wind, and The Bitch is Back. Two-hour-twenty-minutes of great rock and popular music.

I was a bit disappointed that Elton did not perform any of the songs in my preferred album, Captain Fantastic, but there was a lot that compensated for the omission.
The concert was in the football ground of Chesterfield, presently in the fourth division. The ground can take 15,000 people, and many teams in the Israeli premier league would fancy having such a stadium. Elton John was the first ever artist to play the B2net Stadium.
I have wanted to see Elton for many years. When he came to Israel the first time, I think this was in 1993, I was travelling. As it turned out, I did not miss much. Elton arrived, did not like the attention and publicity that the crazed Israelis created around him, turned back and flew back to London the same evening in his private jet. The sold-out concert was cancelled, and I still recall the first-page photo of Yedioth Ahronoth the following day, showing Elton jumping on the hotel sofa as he was trying to flee away from the photographers who were chasing him. This was one of the most hilarious newspaper front pages I have ever seen in my life. I smile every time I recall this escape scene of frantic Elton hopping over the Hilton Tel Aviv lobby sofas. Then he was in quite a good shape. Elton later apologized and returned to Israel to avoid a heavy lawsuit but the temperamental singer has left a memorable impression on many Israelis, including me. No one saw that before, and Israel has greeted many strange characters.

The Chesterfield organizers knew better. They greeted him like a king and he thanked them on stage.

Elton said: we are getting older now, but we enjoy performing because of you, people, who come to sing along with me. Elton certainly looks older. His voice is not as it used to be. He has problem walking around on stage but he is still an incredible musician. He plays the piano beautifully, though without tricks as he used to, and he has around him an incredible group of talented musicians. The result is superb.

Light Side

The Pope and the Rabbi

Several centuries ago, the Pope decreed that all the Jews had to convert to Catholicism or leave Italy. There was a huge outcry from the Jewish community, so the Pope offered a deal.

He'd have a religious debate with the leader of the Jewish community. If the Jews won, they could stay in Italy; if the Pope won, they'd have to convert or leave.

The Jewish people met and picked an aged and wise rabbi to represent them in the debate. However, as the rabbi spoke no Italian, and the Pope spoke no Yiddish, they agreed that it would be a 'silent' debate.

On the chosen day the Pope and rabbi sat opposite each other.

The Pope raised his hand and showed three fingers.

The rabbi looked back and raised one finger.

Next, the Pope waved his finger around his head.

The rabbi pointed to the ground where he sat.

The Pope brought out a communion wafer and a chalice of wine.

The rabbi pulled out an apple.

With that, the Pope stood up and declared himself beaten and said that the rabbi was too clever. The Jews could stay in Italy.

Later the cardinals met with the Pope and asked him what had happened.

The Pope said, 'First I held up three fingers to represent the Trinity. He responded by holding up a single finger to remind me there is still only one God common to both our beliefs.

'Then, I waved my finger around my head to show him that God was all around us. He responded by pointing to the ground to show that God was also right here with us.

'I pulled out the wine and wafer to show that God absolves us of all our sins. He pulled out an apple to remind me of the original sin.

'He bested me at every move and I could not continue.'

Meanwhile, the Jewish community gathered to ask the rabbi how he'd won.

'I haven't a clue' the rabbi said. 'First, he told me that we had three days to get out of Italy, so I gave him the finger.

'Then he tells me that the whole country would be cleared of Jews and I told him that we were staying right here.'

'And then what?' asked a woman.

'Who knows?' said the rabbi. 'He took out his lunch so I took out mine.'

See also


Secret to a Healthy Marriage

Peace and love. Have a glorious summer. I cannot wait relishing my beloved Tel Aviv beach.

Yours as ever,


My last communications are available on http://almagor.blogspot.com/
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